Don’t you have that single restaurant where you always feel at home? People taking care of you? Splendid food? Yes, I think everyone of us foodies has that second living room, somehow, somewhere.
Mine is fortunately in Frankfurt, my hometown. It’s an Italian ‘place’, well, Italian in the best sense when it comes to hospitality with natural warmth. It’s Carmelo Greco’s new Ristorante in Sachsenhausen:
And, it is a really nice place, maybe the most beautiful restaurant around Frankfurt. The golden elements above the benches remind me a bit of Margaux of Berlin but it’s tinier, cozier and much more relaxed – modern, light and comfortable:
Carmelo Greco is almost a Frankfuter, having been here for more than 20 years, first at the Osteria Enoteca (now closed) in Rödelheim where he teamed with the one-of-its-own Roland Brzezinski. Since 1996 he kept a Michelin star and finally emancipated himself and opened his own Ristorante together with some partners… The key takeaway is that this new Ristorante marks a real milestone in Carmelo’s development as his dishes are far more elaborate and refined than before, more and more drawing on classic Italian recipes with a lighted French backbone.
The menu concept is quite simple – there is a degustation menu (five courses with pre-dessert at very reasonable €84) and a couple of a la carte dishes representing some classic and some newer courses. The common denominator is simplicity – the art of getting rid of unnecessary elements to carve out the essence of the respective taste… For lunch there is a very bargain deal “uni, due … o tre”: one course at 18€, two at 27€ and three courses at 37€. We decided to let him choose for us und opted for the surprise chef menu…
A rather typical start at the Ristorante – to accompany a nice glass of spumante (from Franciacorta, of course), one can indulge in the first nibbles: an intense but not too dominant royale con Parmigiano, basically a parmesan flan, that is much lighter that expected and better dimensioned than before. The pairing with orange and espresso flavors contributes some acidity and sweetness. The Quail egg ‘bonbon’ is just perfect, a nice bite with slight support from the underlying cracker.
Frequently, Carmelo integrates classic Italian dishes in his menu, here a rather classic version of the infamous ossobucco from Emilia-Romagna paired with a typical risotto Milanese with saffron. As good as it gets!
One of the best dishes of the last months – the combination of crude tuna tartar with a strawberry-foie ice cream is ingenious, simple and purist. The dimensioning is perfect, the flavors make you feel like dancing the table. Divine!! (in previous menus Carmelo serves beef tartar with a bearnaise ice cream, also absolutely fantastic!!)
A new dish, maybe only prepared for us that night is far more elaborate than Carmelo’s usual dishes. A fantastic carabiniero quality but the whole ‘construction turned out to be too protein-heavy that made it less pleasant to digest after all. But flavors were excellent!
Back on the block is this wonderful land and sea combination (very characteristic to Carmelo) with slightly roasted scallops paired with incredibly tender porc belly from the endangered species Cinta Sinese, the Itailan version of Pata Negra pigs. They are restarting to cultivate the species in Massanera where they live semi-wild in the forest around Florance. The product is very rare but worth any penny because, compared to theie Spanisch cousins, these nice fellows are juicier and a bit more on the slightly sweet side. Perfect combination with the black truffles and the surprisingly light Fonduta cream – excellent!
Another absolute signature – the tortelli filled with liquid Amitriciana and Carbornara sugo. A clever inversion as the sugo is inside and not outside so to demonstrate the essence of the taste in a more direct and clearer way. Divine.
Carmelo’s fish courses always show some surprising sweet or acidic element – here the perfect skrei (Winter cod from Norway) gets the special touch by truffles and the port wine jus, and, genuine potatoes with a benchmark taste. In terms of menu dramaturgy it’s a step back in intensity at this point that is necessary not to overpower the aromas before coming to the main. Excellent dish!
Nice take on the Nantaisian duck – incredibly tender breast cooked at perfection paired with a braised leg and accompanied with orange and tangerine that provided the extra kick. Especially the interplay of the slight sweetness of the duck itself (a bit caramelized on top), the shallots and the fruit filets made this outstanding – a declination of sweet facets backboned with acidity and herbal pea notes.
Classic and for me not really necessary but my dining companion wanted it – the Italian cheeses were quite delicious (without recalling the names…)
A sweet finale with nougat ganache covered with white chocolate and a white chocolate ice cream on top. Excellent ending!
This was a perfect evening – stunning food with only some minor improvement potential (the tuctuc), cozy atmosphere and perfect service celebrated by Peggy Braun (the Amador school in service shows – unpretentious, warm-hearty and family-like) who is unfortunately on maternity leave now. But I think she will be back soon. Sommelier Enrico Resta (now also acting as the mâitre d’) made us happy with a selection of nice Italian wines with the individual courses – it’s always worth to lay your fate into his hands.
Overall it feels like a second living room – generosity shows in every detail and Carmelo’s cooking grows stronger and stronger. Just recently he is even more concentrating on the heritage of some iconic dishes from his mother land and cleverly demonstrates that they can be modernized without fancy gestures but relying on solid craftsmanship paired with some inventive thoughts.
Carmelo’s Ristorante is a must in Frankfurt, prices are reasonable and the overall experience rocks! Thanks to the whole team for making me feel so comfortable in here!
Ristorante Carmelo Greco
Tel.: +49 (69) 606 089 67
Fax: +49 (69) 606 089 84